Friday, August 2, 2013

Scotland Forever

"There are no stars so lovely as Edinburgh street lamps."
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

We just returned from spending four days in Edinburgh, Scotland. The land of tartan, thick brogues, a bloody past, haggis, scotch, eloquent poets, music, moors and glens.

It is a beautiful city. An ancient city. Full of castles, crags and meat pies.

Friendly people. Amazing architecture. And history. so much history.

Edinburgh Castle looms over the entire city. Every time you look up, it is there staring down at you.

Walking through the narrow, dark and cramped alleyways between the buildings of the old city made me think of how scary that part of Edinburgh must have been 300 years ago. It quickly conjured up images from 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde'.

Many things we'd heard about Scotland were true. Men really DO wear kilts. We saw lots of guys sporting them on the streets.

We heard bagpipes being played both outside and inside buildings.

And yes, it does rain most of the time.

We hiked up Salisbury Crag to Arthur's Seat.

From up there we had incredible views of the city.

And also amazing views of the Firth of Forth and the North Sea.

We spent a morning at Edinburgh Castle. The views from the top were spectacular, but this wasn't my favourite castle. Its history is that of a military stronghold so its focus is on war and weaponry.

The most poignant part for me was the cemetery for soldiers' dogs.

We went on a Literary Pub Tour one evening. We learned many things about Edinburgh's history, authors and drinking establishments. How sweet it was to listen to 'Miss McBrain' put Robert Burns' poetry to music and serenade us in a leafy courtyard just off of the Grass Market.

Mr. Clarty' on the other hand was impossible to understand. His brogue was so thick we questioned if he was even speaking English!

We visited Holyrood, the Queen's official residence in Scotland.

Between the audio guide and a private tour of the abbey ruins we learned a lot about this venerable old castle.

For all you royal watchers: Did you know that the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips got married here? And did you further know she had her wedding photos (that the public has never seen) taken in the abbey ruins? Neither did I!

We hiked up 297 steps inside an extremely narrow spiral staircase of the Sir Walter Scott monument.

Again, sweeping views of the city from the top. Plus an excellent workout.

We visited St. Giles Cathedral,

sat in pubs and listened to music,

bought clothes,

visited the Scottish National Gallery,

and watched the city get ready for its world famous Edinburgh Festival.

But the best part was this:

When we travel I rarely buy anything for myself. I prefer to spend my hard-earned dollars on experiences. But ever since seeing a hedgehog scurry through the neighbourhood in Taunton a couple of weeks ago, I have been on the lookout for a hedgehog souvenir.

I found it in Edinburgh! It is totally impractical. It is totally frivolous. And I totally LOVE HIM! He is about 12" tall and weighs several pounds. He is a doorstop. I can hardly wait to get him home to prop open our bedroom door. Sigh. Is he not the cutest?

And THAT ladies and gentlemen was our 4 day excursion to Edinburgh. It started out on shaky ground but ended on a high note.


*Please click on the individual photos to enlarge them for a closer look.


  1. Cutest hedgehog EVER! He'll make you smile every morning! You're having such a great trip, Nancy- it's been fun to follow your adventures. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Tina! We are having so much fun in the UK. We love it here.

  2. I am not surprised that you love it there. Of two people I know you enjoy your holidays the most. Thank you for letting us get to see a little of what you both love about your travels. The world old and new have a lot to offer. PS What do the males really wear under their kilts? Look forward to your next installment.
    Love you both Mom xxooxx.